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Ways to Hire a Rockstar Team for your Startup

Ways to Hire a Rockstar Team for your Startup

‘A solo-entrepreneur swimming through a sea of hurdles’, ‘a one-man-army fighting against all odds to reach his goal of establishing a successful startup’ – these are all fairy tales.  In reality, nobody who’s ever scaled a business from the ground up did it alone. A startup is a collective effort. It requires the talent of may bright, talented minds, working in harmony to be successful. Hiring a brilliant team is pivotal to your startup’s success. The quality of your team will have a direct implication on your company’s product quality and branding. The people you choose to work with have the ability to make or break your business.

Hiring is a tricky task, but hiring for startups can be even trickier. As a infant company with limited finance, hiring the wrong employee can potentially be the end of your startup. Therefore, you have to be very careful with your decisions and do your best to hire the cream of the crop.

Below you can find some suggestions on hiring the best startup employees.

Networking events are meant for meeting new people and building connections. Therefore, they are the hub for fresh talents who are looking for companies who can hire them. They provide a healthy environment for networking and interaction of like-minded individuals. You can initiate and expand your talent hunt by taking the time to speak at such events and meetups. Speaking engagements are great opportunities to promote your company’s vision and goals to potential employees and encourage them to apply for different positions in your company.

Fresh college graduates hold a lot of potential. They are in touch with academics, have a zeal to make a place for themselves in the corporate world and are looking for exciting work-environments which are also youth-friendly. Startups help fresh college graduates kickstart their journey in the corporate world with a sharp growth curve. It’s a friendly exchange in the sense that both the fresher and the startup can learn and gain from each other. Thus, collaborating with college/university placement programs is another good away of talent acquisition. Various rounds like written, group-discussion and personal interview give you the chance to carefully assess the lot and select the ones who seem suitable for your company.

Hiring via social media platforms like LinkedIn is also gaining momentum. LinkedIn and similar interfaces, allows you to have a textual conversation with your potential co-workers without the hassle and awkwardness of meeting them in person at the very start. This gives the potential employee a chance to build a rapport with you before the official interview happens. It’s comfortable, adds a personal touch to the conversation and helps you and your potential co-worker to warm up to each other before meeting under professional conditions.

Referrals are another great way of talent acquisition. In general, it can be hard to screen talent from a heap of candidates, all eager to please you and get in your good books. It can get very overwhelming to judge what’s good for your company in such a short period. This is where referrals help. When a trusted source refers a candidate to you, it makes your work easier. Since the candidate carries a reference of someone you have faith in, you can proceed with the interview with more ease. In most cases, entrepreneurs take their trusted source’s word for granted and skip the interview step altogether. In short, your work gets reduced to half and you have more faith in your potential candidate, thanks to the reference.

3 steps to getting your startup Fund-raise ready

3 steps to getting your startup Fund-raise ready

Fundraisers are warzones. With new startups popping up every week, each having great potential, it is a humongous task to stand-out and get the investors to notice your startup. There is a lot to learn about fundraising which you can acquire only through practical knowledge. You, s an entrepreneur have to actually get out there and do it. There is barely any legitimate and useful guidance available publicly. Any knowledge that is available at all is passed around through private meetings and closed networks.

Unless your startup has miraculously received an abnormal amount of publicity already which helped to catch the investors’ eyes, fundraising is going to be a tough task. It’s filled with painful rejections: Rejections that are quickly and rudely delivered; rejections that are disguised as “let’s keep in touch”;rejections that come after a series of promising meetings. Such rejections are bound to weigh you down and discourage you. The stress and anxiety will be off the charts and you will feel like quitting.

But quitting is for cowards. Be prepared to fight through it all. 

This article aims at providing you a few tips on how to get your startup fundraiser ready so that you are better prepared for the game of fundraising.

1. Cash flows : Understand costs and revenues well deeply

Cash flow is the money that flows in and out of your business in a month. Cash is coming in from customers or clients who are buying your products or availing your services. Cash is goes out of your startup in the form of rent or a mortgage, loan payments, taxes and raw materials. Lack of cash is one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail. Inadequate cash reserves are a top reason startups don’t succeed. Running out of money can shut your startup down faster than anything else. When you are starting a business understanding the cash flow is detrimental to your startup’s future. Before you can approach an investor personally or in a fundraising event, it is of utmost important that your startup is stabilised and has made some progress. This helps the investor see potential in you and trust you. Additionally, having an acute understanding of your startup’s overall expenses is important too.  Create a revenue model to keep a track of cash inflows, outflows, and backups. A revenue model will help you generate a higher than average return on investment. In meetings with investors, the revenue model will help in mid and long-term projections of a company’s profit potential and operation and help the investor understand the future prospects of your startup.

2. Clarity : Having a clear solution, business concept and value proposition.

In the world of startups, complicated, shifty strategies are not appreciated. When you approach an investor with a business strategy with your revenue model, one thing he will look for in your plans is clarity. A key component of your business plan is your business concept and value proposition, which is the clear articulation of why customers should choose your solution over that of your competitors. The business concept includes your vision of the startup, talking about the value your product or service will bring to the customer, why you are especially qualified to offer it, as well describing your offering’s uniqueness and growth potential within your industry. Keep in mind that everything in your business plan must relate back to the value and benefits your product or service provides to your target customers. Having a clear cut business concept also helps you understand the market scenario. Your value proposition is what makes customers choose you over your competitors. It comprises marketing operations,strategy and how you handle your monetisation; your value proposition is the foundation of your competitive edge. Make sure that you know what you are talking about. Ensure that you have a good understanding of how your startup is functioning and what you plan to do with it in the future. Unless you yourself understand it properly, you cannot convince an investor, because your words will lack conviction. Prepare beforehand by keeping an acute eye on the work process and working closely with your team. 

3. Teamwork: Highlight and project a strong, passionate team 
 A startup requires a team effort. When you initiate a startup, many  talented minds, working in harmony are needed to be successful. Hiring a brilliant team is pivotal to your startup’s success. The quality of your team will have a direct implication on your company’s product quality and branding. The people you choose to work with have the ability to make or break your business. Make sure you have a strong startup team. You team can share the fundraising workload by developing appropriate resources and locating investors and fundraising events, by emailing everyone for fundraising suggestions, maintaining email contact and creating support packs and helping your startup enter private networks. They can also help in your startup getting enough exposure in various fundraising campaigns. This will help your startup achieve stability and progress and help you create a good image of your startup in the market. Your team’s collective effort can definitely help you approach good investors. Your investors will have a greater faith in you if they see potential in your team.

2 Biggest Mistakes Founders Make

2 Biggest Mistakes Founders Make

“To err is human, but to learn from our mistakes is divine”. When an entrepreneur sets out into the world in hopes of building a successful startup, they’re hopeful and optimistic. They feel that with their sheer good intentions and mental strategies they can blaze the trail of start-ups. But the reality is quite different.

The truth is, when a founders starts off with the mammoth task of creating a brand, he or she is bound to make some common mistakes. It’s a natural part of the process. The important thing is learning from our mistakes and those made by anyone who has ventured into this path before us, instead of getting discouraged.

Let us take a good look at 10 of the biggest mistakes founders usually make :

Often, founders work backwards. They build their “solution” based on the assumption that there’s a problem somewhere. But that is not how it should work. And more often than not, you might end up building solutions that don’t even work. If you wish to base a start-up on providing a solution to a problem, identify and understand the problem first. Only then you start looking for solutions. If your solution doesn’t save time, money or builds revenue, then there’s likely no problem in need of such  a solution.

One of the most common areas where start-ups tend to commit mistakes is not studying the market properly. Studying the market and knowing the demographic of your customers is a major part of the process. It helps you understand your customer base better and take important decisions such as estimating the costs, gauging the demand and advertising the product in a way that would appeal to the target customers. Misinterpreting the market demographics may lead to monetary loss or a dip in the sales. Therefore it is very important to study and interpret the market trend accurately.

Most start-up begin their journey by critically analysing their competitors. While staying alert and learning the ropes from those around you is a good thing, obsessing over the competition will only end up discouraging you. If you have good intentions to address a certain problem and help out your prospects who are facing that problem, the only people you should care about are your customers. Understand that your competitors have also started from the scratch and it takes time to reach milestones. Focus on solving the problems of the customers and ignore the unhealthy rat race – everything else will automatically fall into place.

As founders we often take too long to take decisions and end up losing major opportunities. We hesitate to walk away from a bad contract even when our intuitions say otherwise. This may cost us good business opportunities and even customers. One of the secrets of the trade that we have to learn is being fast, we should follow our instincts and seize the opportunities that come.

When we start off with the dream of building a scalable business, we have our own set of values and moral code of conduct. We wish to build the start-up brick by brick our own way. But often, we partner up with individuals whose morals and ethics are different from ours just for the sake of the capital investment or accelerated growth. Therefore, it is strongly advised to first know, understand and form a bond with and partnership before co-founding a start-up to avoid hiccups at work.

Founders, at the early stage of any start-up are understandably anxious. They’re still not completely trusting of their staff and often underestimate their abilities. This results in them either doing the staff’s part of the job too or harrowing them continuously to get the job done. Either way, it results in overworking and exhaustion and forms a bad relationship between the founder and the staff. Learn to delegate work amongst your staff members wisely. If you’re not sure of their abilities initially, give them small targets and help them if required. This way, you will eventually learn to trust them. The staff too will feel like the part of a team and a healthy relationship between you and your staff will form.

Most founders, in the initial period, prefer to multitask – design, development, marketing- they have their hands everywhere. That either happens because they are under-staffed or because they haven’t started delegating work yet. This makes them lose focus. Hone in on the things you’re really great at and motivate and hire team who shares your vision and passion. This helps the company grow.

The reason start-ups exist in the first place, is for the customers. They have the power to make and break your company. Therefore it is very important to go beyond your way and build and actual human rapport with your customer base. Interact with them as often and for as long as possible. This will build their trust on you and they will continue doing business with your company.

If you believe that the solution that your company is providing is genuinely and significantly helping out your customers, there’s no reason for you to offer free or undercharge for it. Entrepreneurs spend huge capital in building product / delivering services but are offen afraid of asking for even the cost. Offering free or undercharging never create a long term scalable commercially viable business. Genuine customers will get deterred away by the suspiciously low prices and cheap customers might try to exploit you further. Know your worth, and understand the value of your work – charge accordingly.

Often we let our personal relationships get into the way of our professionalism. We let our loved ones slide when it comes to legal contracts because they’re friends or family. One of the biggest mistakes a business owner/entrepreneur can make when starting a business is the failure to implement contracts. No matter how good relationships may be, they can brutally end if systems and agreements are not abided by. Hence a founder must always make sure he/she keeps away personal sentiments from his professional life.

Ashish Mittal is Chief  Mentor and Founder of TurningIdeas Ventures, a startup Incubator based in Noida. You can follow him at @ashishmitt

One mantra for your Startup Growth

One mantra for your Startup Growth

A startup is a company designed to grow fast. The only necessary factor is rapid growth. Everything else we associate with startups is relevant to growth. When it comes to startups, growth is not an option. It is imperative. If you want to establish a startup, it is necessary that you understand that. Startups are so hard that you can’t take any chances and leave it to fate. Startups require constant hard work. You have to know that growth is what you’re after. The good news is, if you get growth, everything else tends to fall into place. Which means you can use growth like a compass to make almost every decision you face.

But the statistics can be intimidating – only one in ten companies succeeds in achieving sustained, profitable growth. The biggest hindrance to your startup’s growth is when you don’t have an inside-out knowledge of the working model of your startup. Successful founders stand out because they can quickly recognize problems.  They are quick at decision making and know how to use technology to their advantage to solve their problems. 

The one important mantra that entrepreneurs all over are pursuing is Growth Hacking. 

Entrepreneurs today, are using startup growth hacks to grow quickly and gain a stable and loyal customer base. Growth hacking ideas for startups is a proven formula of success. It’s crucial for startups to market their product(s) effectively during the nascent stage. To establish a brand image and reach out to a massive customer base, entrepreneurs need to avail growth hacking strategies for startups. Although growth hacking techniques have only been around for a few years, they have rapidly become an integral strategy for startup growth.

Growth hacking is a clever marketing technique that helps the entrepreneur to determine the most effective ways of growing a startup. The process involves an amalgamation of marketing, development, design, engineering, data and analytics. Using this technique, the entrepreneur  finds an innovative, rapid and inexpensive way of attaining growth rather than using the traditional processes.

You may use a range of methods to achieve the growth target. For example content marketing, email marketing, reverse engineering etc.

Always keep in mind that: Product + Growth = Impact

Here are some growth hacking tips you can use to jumpstart your startup :

1) Email marketing is one of the most effective ways of growth hacking. Focus on building an email list. It will allow you to reach your audience and create a pre-launch hype and buzz. It will allow you to gather potential customers even before your product launch. 

2) Referrals from influential and established individuals allow you to publicise your product and increase its credibility. Moreover, family and friends create a better network of marketing and publicity because these are closed and private circuits and have more credibility than television advertisements.

3) Collaboration with a bigger brand allows your startup to bank on your partners reputation and increase credibility for yourself. They also help your startup create a lot of noise. Smaller and bigger brands have found out that collaborating and product partnership is an effective growth hacking strategy. It will enhance the visibility of your products and services.

4) Attend and host social events. It helps you establish important connection which you may need in the future. It also gives you the opportunity to avail word-of-mouth publicity for your products. Make connections, learn about your industry, and get some inspiration. Exposing your startup on relevant community events and conferences will allow you to ensure success.

5) Social media is an essential platform for startups. You can leverage social media communities to promote yourself, receive market feedback and interact with industry influencers. Startups should strive to align their social media activities with the overall growth.

6) Keep a close eye on your competitors. Not only does this help you align your products at the same quality and standard as theirs, it also helps you learn from their success and failures. Once you’ve acknowledged your competitive landscape, it is also important to display why your company has a competitive advantage to scale in the respective market.

7) An aggressive content marketing strategy keeping your customer feedback in focus can help you market your product with ease.With a modest budget, create a content marketing strategy for your startup that allows your audience to understand the value of your product. Regardless of what type of a startup you are, your content marketing strategies should always focus on attracting the right audience.

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